Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #9

Chapter Nine
Kinky Space Pirates

“I feel trapped,” moaned Dr Skin as he was led down the aisle between the massive bookcases. “I can’t get out, can’t get out of anything.”

“Yes, yes,” said the old Librarian kindly. He let Skin lean on him even though he looked like he could barely stand on his own legs. “I know exactly how you feel.”

“Let’s talk about feelings,” said Skin, suddenly standing up rigidly. The Librarian paused and allowed Skin time to let it all out. “I mean, my feelings are just as important as anybody else, but what does that mean if I can’t feel anything? I’m flat and superficial, lost and found. This is my life we’re talking about here and if none of it makes the slightest bit of sense, where does that leave me? Or my feelings?”

“It’s only to be expected,” said the Librarian.

Dr Skin turned, looked down at the old man as if he was seeing him for the first time and blinked once, very slowly. “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

The Librarian nodded. “You’ve lost your way. A little disorientation is only to be expected.”

“I’m not lost!” protested Skin, only to look around bewildered. “Oh wait. Yes I am.”

“That’s what I said.”

“So where am I anyway?” asked Skin. All he could see were bookshelves that towered high into the air and along the wooden floor, far off into the distance.

The Librarian waved his hands dismissively. “You fell out of nowhere, right in the middle of my library. You must have given up.”


“You must have given up everything. That is the only way people like you arrive here.”

Skin did not like the way the Librarian said that, but he let it slide. He moved closer to get a closer look at the books, but he did not recognize any of the titles. He went to pull one out, only to have the Librarian slap his hand back.

“No touching my books!”

“I’m sorry,” said Skin. He rubbed his hands that had been surprisingly stung by the older man’s slap. “Are they delicate or something?”

“No, they are just in a very specific order. I don’t want you to mess it up. Now come along.”

The Librarian started back off down the aisle, but Skin stood his ground. “I’m not going anywhere until you explain what is going on.”

The Librarian stopped walking, turned back to Skin and peered over the top of his glasses. “Since when did you have to know what was happening?”

Dr Skin opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again when he realized the Librarian was right. He had never needed to know the score before, he had just played the game.

“Now,” said the Librarian much more forcefully. “Come along.”

Skin followed him this time.

As he walked, he looked at the back of his hand. Something was bothering him about it. Then he remembered what it was and stopped walking again.

The Librarian rolled his eyes as he halted again. “What is it this time?”

Skin held up the back of his hand. “I’ve had a scar on the back of my hand ever since I was little kid. I was attacked by an eel when I was swimming in a creek and I’ve had the wound to show off ever since.”

“Yes? So?”

“So it’s gone now.”

The Librarian stepped up to Skin to get a closer look at the back of his hand. “Why, so it is.”

“Well, what does that mean?”

The Librarian’s gentle smile vanished. “It must mean you’re something new.”


“You’re free of your fiction now,” said the Librarian, his tone getting both stronger and harsher. “You have gone into places you do not belong.”

Dr Skin decided he was sick of being on the defensive and poked the little elderly man in the chest with his finger. “I belong anywhere and everywhere. I always have.”

The Librarian looked down at the finger poking him in the chest and back up at Skin’s face. He smiled and then hit Skin with a backhanded blow that sent him flying back into one of the bookcases. Heavily bound volumes rained down around his ears, infuriating the Librarian.

“I told you not to mess with my system!” he roared, charging at Skin.

Skin tried to defend himself, but the Librarian was surprisingly fast and slammed into him before he could do anything. He grabbed Skin up by the lapel of his jacket and head-butted him back down to the ground, then started kicking Skin around the head.

“Stupid, stupid character!” he screamed as he continued to lay in with the boot. “Not doing anything worthwhile, not going anywhere at all! Just more navel gazing, with all the boring lint anybody could ever handle!”

Skin rolled up into a ball as the hits kept on coming, holding his breath as he sucked up the pain.

Then they stopped and Skin uncurled a little to see the Librarian move over to the other side of the aisle and consider his books.

“Hmmm,” he muttered, seeming not to care whether Skin heard him or not. “Where could you go? Where would you belong? Aha!”

He pulled down a particularly large book and opening it to random page, turned back and advanced on Skin. “You should never have exceeded your limits. No character ever should.”

“Speak for yourself, fatso,” said a mocking voice from behind the Librarian. Skin looked past the older man to see two other men leaning against the bookshelves behind him, neither looking particularly bothered by anything. The man who had just spoken was dressed almost entirely in black, with only a bright red tie beneath an expensive looking jacket. The other wore an old, battered army-jacket over simple clothing, with the scuffed boots to go along.

“No,” hissed the Librarian angrily. “Not you two. Not here in my library!”

“Fuck off,” swore the man in the army jacket, sneering at the Librarian. “This belongs to everybody, you single-minded simpleton. You have no claim here.”

The Librarian roared in anger and charged at the two men. The man in black looked at his companion. “If you please, Rocket Fish.”

Rocket Fish nodded in agreement. “Don’t mind if I do, King Goob.”

Reaching inside his army jacket, Rocket Fish pulled out an impressive looking pistol and fired it at the Librarian, just as he got to them. A laser beam shot out and hit the Librarian at point blank right through the forehead, sizzling as it burned through his brain.

“Ow,” said the Librarian, dropping his book and following it to the floor an instant later.

King Goob nudged the dead man with his boot, then bent down to get a closer look at the book he was carrying. “Yuck. ‘Crime and Punishment’. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”

“Yes,” agreed Rocket Fish, turning to Skin, “but what about the good Doctor here? He deserves everything he gets.”

“All that and more,” said King Goob, walking over to Skin, who still lay on the ground.

Dr Skin spat out a mouthful of blood and looked up at the two men. “And what did I ever do to you two cunts?”

“He doesn’t remember us,” said King Goob.

“I said he wouldn’t,” said Rocket Fish. “Everything old is new again. I owe you 10 bucks.”

King Goob considered his options for a moment, before giving his hand to Skin, offering him help back to his feet. “It’s okay. We’re on the same side.”

Skin was wary about taking the hand. “What side is that then?”

“We’re on everybody’s side,” said King Goob, putting on his most charming smile.

“Shit,” said Dr Skin, thinking about it for just one moment more before taking the hand that was offered and getting to his feet. “I guess that will have to do.”

“Same old Skin,” said Rocket Fish as he put the laser gun away. “Different face, but just as trusting as ever.”

“Have we met before?” asked Skin.

“Might have,” said Rocket Fish with a shrug. “Hard to tell. What year is this anyway? Hell, what universe is this?”

“Ignore him,” said King Goob, gesturing back at his partner. “He’s crazy.”

“I know how he feels,” said Skin. “So, are you going to help me or what?”

“You’re stuck,” said King Goob smugly. “Stuck in one place. We used to be too, but new minds have taken us on board. Not many…”

“Well, only one really,” interrupted Rocket Fish.

“Better than none,” replied his partner. “Three is always better than one, and you never know what could come up next.”

“Is there any point to this?” asked Skin.

“Yes!” cried Rocket Fish, leaping forward, grabbing Skin by the arm and dragging him down the aisle. “Now there is the old Skin! Straight to the motherlovin’ point! God, I missed that!”

King Goob jogged behind the other two as they took off down the aisle. “Move on, keep on!”

They ran further down the corridor and Skin could swear it was getting darker as they moved deeper into the library.

”What is this place anyway?” he asked.

“It’s a library!” yelled King Goob behind him. “Sometimes a place is just a place. It doesn’t have to mean anything!”

“Ignore him, he’s mental,” said Rocket Fish knowingly, only to suddenly pull up short in front of a bookcase loaded down with novels with brightly covered spines. “Ah! Here we are!”

“Already?” said King Goob, a little disappointed.

“These things can’t go on forever,” replied Rocket Fish, before turning back to Skin. “Listen. You have to go where we can’t. It’s all a bit selfish, but what can you expect? It is, after all, all about you.”

“Right,” said an unconvinced Doctor Skin.

“Right!” yelled Rocket Fish grabbing a book with a bright, multi-coloured spine with the title on it in neon green lettering. He passed it to Skin with a grin. “Now, our work here is done.”

“But you didn’t do anything,” said Doctor Skin. He looked down at the cover, which showed a picture of two mirrors facing each other, reflecting back into infinity under the title, which Skin read out loud. “’Therapeutic Skin Jobs’? What the fuck does that mean?”

Rocket Fish stepped back beside King Goob.

“Have you got the clock?” he asked his partner. King Goob nodded and Rocket Fish turned back to Skin.

“Remember, buddy. They say self-indulgence is a sin, but what the fuck do they know? We reckon that if you can’t indulge yourself, it just ain’t worth doing.”

“Damn straight!” said King Goob, pulling a suspiciously large cuckoo clock out of his jacket pocket and fiddling with the hands on the face. “Catch you later, Doctor Skin.”

“We’ll see you in the next world,” said Rocket Fish with a grin.

And then they vanished, leaving Dr Skin alone in the library with his book.

“Huh,” he said, looking up and down the aisle. There was definitely nobody else about, so he opened the book they had given him.

It did not take him long to recognize what he was reading. All of his recent adventures were in there, right down to the tiniest detail. He opened it to a random part and started reading out loud.

“Doctor Skin opened his eyes to see that the hero’s velocity had been too fast for reality and they had torn a hole in space itself and flown straight through,” he read out, before laughing and skipping forward. “Jesus, this is terrible.”

Then he noticed that some parts of the book were about somebody else, some loser who lived the dullest of lives and never did anything about it. He skipped past those bits too, until he came to chapter nine.

Reading through that part, he realised he was reading about his experiences in the library where he still stood. Unable to help himself, Skin moved on to the very end of the chapter.

He read the last sentence, where Doctor Skin read about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there reading about himself standing there re

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